Today U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced a detailed summary of his "America's Health Future Act of 2009" that will be marked-up in the Senate Financial Services Committee next week.
The Baucus legislation explicitly includes abortion and would subsidize health plans that cover all elective abortions and moves well beyond the status quo of preventing federal funds from paying for abortion or subsidizing plans that covers abortion as is prevented under current laws governing Medicaid, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan and the State Children's Health Insurance Plan. On Friday morning at the Values Voter Summit, this issue will be discussed in greater detail during a congressional panel discussion.
Responding, Tony Perkins said:
"Senator Baucus' new health care bill puts to rest the President's claim that 'abortion is not included' in the Senate health care bill. The Baucus plan includes abortion, pure and simple. Like the Capps abortion amendment in the House bill, the Baucus plan would subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions but with tax credits. The accounting used in the bill is a matter of smoke and mirrors, since elective abortion is authorized for health plans receiving government subsidies.
"The Baucus bill goes even farther by mandating that there be at least one health plan in each region across the country which covers elective abortions. Such a government mandate of abortion-covered plans in each state exchange and subsidizing such plans does little to prevent 'federal funding of abortion' as President Obama said last week. Moreover, the Baucus bill would spend $6 billion to establish health care co-ops and this funding could be used for elective abortion because it is not subject to the Hyde Amendment appropriations provision.
"If President Obama is serious about preventing funding for abortion in health care reform, he should immediately support adoption of Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment to exclude abortion from all health care reform legislation. Democrat Senator Bob Casey voted for such an amendment in the Senate Health Committee.
"It's time for President Obama to stop the smoke and mirrors on abortion and health care and straightforwardly tell Congress to permanently exclude abortion coverage."